Russian novelist Dostoevsky, in his classic work Idiot, declares that beauty will save the world. Dostoevsky’s work is decidedly Christian in character and deeply informed with Christian theology. When he says that beauty will save the world, he is pointing to Christ on the cross.
Is that beauty? A naked man nailed to a beam of wood, suspended in the air as a means of torture and death? This is beauty? There is a disconnect.
The great prophet Isaiah declares of the coming messiah:
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isaiah 52:1-3 NASB)
Yet David in a great messianic Psalm says:
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 NASB)
How can these both be true? Part of the problem is with the modern understanding of beauty. It is almost exclusively external. We will give room for the one who has beauty on the inside, but this is just a way of excusing them for failing to meet the modern expectation of external beauty.
Biblically, beauty has to do with love, truth, faithfulness, goodness, and kindness – all internal qualities. If something is true, and if something is good, then it has beauty, all appearances aside.
In Jesus Christ we find all these qualities and on the cross they are demonstrated most vividly. He is truth, He is goodness, and in perfect love He is dying for me. Though the picture of His dying is not very pretty, the reality of it is beauty itself.
To gaze upon this beauty … it provides away for the world to be saved. Could there be anything more beautiful?